Usually something – a new idea, a major policy initiative, an area of ​​focus – jumps out when a governor delivers a state of the state address.

In Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s state of the state address on Monday, it was this: the most overtly campaign-oriented state of the state I’ve ever heard.

Little has a serious campaign challenge ahead in the coming months, and not just for himself but also for his political allies who will be fighting a possibly bitter battle against serious opposition in the Republican primary.

In his address to the Legislative Assembly and to the state, Little seemed more than aware of this: this reality seemed to dominate him. He was almost two-thirds of the way through the speech before he started delivering what looks like the heart of a normal state of the state. And that was in a relatively short speech, by far his shortest state, and only about two-thirds of last year. (Brevity is usually a virtue, but you have to get the job done.)

Why am I saying this? You can start with references to the Biden administration. Throwing a quick shadow swipe in the direction of a presidency from the other party is nothing new. Governors of both parties regularly do a little. But usually it’s just a quick getaway. The subject matter, after all, is supposed to be the state of the state.

But Little went far beyond the norm in the first two-thirds of his speech, again and again: “As President Biden divides Americans in his attempts to elevate the role of government in the lives of citizens… Biden’s Polarizing Vaccination Mandates…As Bidenflation Rises…As President Biden Continues to Dismiss US-Mexico Border Disaster…President Biden’s Faulty Border Policies…Biden’s Inaction as Inflation Inflates under Biden’s watch… With Bidenflation exploding.

And there were the traditional “DC is awful” remarks, but even more so than usual: “As DC digs the country into a $29 trillion hole…As DC continues to impose new regulations expensive… While DC wants to increase taxes on all citizens.

All of this would have fit in pretty well at a Lincoln Day Republican dinner (the circuit of which has just begun), but a state of the art is meant to be a report on the state of the state and recommendations for the future. , a slice of governing, not campaigning. Not much happened to that, but at the end of the speech.

There was another element in this speech which seemed unusual in its obviousness.

These speeches almost always have an element of self-congratulation, reports of conditions going well, and the speaker’s efforts paying off. Usually, governors also go out of their way to praise the Legislative Assembly. This speech did not contain much of that. (He also didn’t sidestep many important issues in Idaho — from housing affordability to the particularly high COVID-19 death rate to widespread attacks on education — but many governors are ignoring those. things in their addresses on the state of the state.)

Little’s eulogy included broader elements (economic and regulatory, primarily), but included a statement in which he quoted people he knew who had influenced him, and then this:

“Leaders give people confidence and show the way through their humble strength. Leaders go through life with a spirit of service. Leaders listen. A leader’s voice is effective, not just loud. Every day, I strive to live up to the example of my mentors. It’s what the people of Idaho deserve from their governor, and it’s what they deserve from everyone elected to public office.

So, putting a label on his legislative proposals and making the link inevitable, he said, “My plan is called LEADING IDAHO.” (Capitals are his.)

It was a speech subscribed to and delivered on behalf of Idaho taxpayers — which include non-Republicans as well as party members — that could be framed at the upcoming Lincoln Day dinner.